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What are the proceedings of an internal Army Command Investigation

of conduct unbecoming of an...
What are the proceedings of an internal Army Command Investigation of conduct unbecoming of an officer, such as an inappropriate romantic relationship involving an enlisted member, and how long do they take? Interviews may be executed, does anything follow?
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8/23/2013
Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Military Law
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Experience: Licensed attorney and former Navy JAG serving ashore, afloat and at the OJAG
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Hello,

Thank you for your question. What you described, although it can be charged as Conduct Unbecoming, is fraternization. But, to answer your questions. These investigations into the actual facts and evidence could be completed in a week or it could be a month or more. It really depends on how many potential witnesses there are and their availability. For example, if a witness is deployed, then it will take time to set up an interview with a local CID agent with that witness and get the information back to the Command who the Officer is attached to.

Once the investigation of the initial evidence is complete, then after that it can take weeks or months to resolve the issue if there is probable cause to believe the misconduct occurred. That is because the Command has to decide if there will be an Article 15 disposition of the charge or charges or whether they want to court-martial the officer. Then if a court-martial, if it is for a General Court-Martial, since that is essentially a felony court, there must be a probable cause hearing (Article 38 hearing--like a grand jury of sorts), and then findings and recommendations, etc. So, that is what might extend the time to resolve the misconduct issue.

Then, after whatever discipline action the Command takes there would likely be a Show Cause Hearing if the Officer was found guilty, where the Officer would be in front of a discharge board. That process can take a year to resolve. Sometimes less, but it can be lengthy.

Please let me know if you have specific follow up questions as your initial question was a bit broad and without facts. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you for your quick response.


 


I apologize for being so general but I'm specifically interested in knowing the proceedings of the investigations, such as what steps are taken to gain facts on the case. I understand interviewing witnesses can mostly likely take place. Will further measures to gain evidence be taken, for example acquiring phone and email traffic? Or is that determined case by case depending upon the command/situation?

Hello again and no problem, I understand. This would be like any other criminal investigation, so witnesses and the subject of the investigation (if they consent) will be questioned, then any other evidence that might support, or clear, the charges would be sought. However, at this stage it is just a probable cause investigation, which means they don't have to have all the evidence that they would need, for a court-martial proceeding for example. So, they wouldn't usually get a warrant for phone records unless it was absolutely necessary to make a probable cause case. However, after probable cause if established and if the case were to go to court-martial versus and Article 15 hearing, then subpoena's would likely be sent for any records in the possession of phone companies, or whoever else has records that would support the case.

That said, if a potential witness has records printed out or available, they could submit those to the investigators to look at, but ultimately for court there would have to be official records.
Marsha411JD
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Customer reply replied 4 years ago

Thank you for this insight.

You're welcome and feel free to ask follow up questions in the future on this issue. You can do so even after you leave a rating, as the question is never closed to the customer.
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